You know how God moves through your life imperceptibly most days? You know he’s there, but you don’t give much thought to his soft, graceful movements as they gently course correct you along your daily path. Yeah, me too! Even though I am deeply rooted in faith, I often forget that my life is being daily directed by something bigger than myself.

But sometimes we get pushed, hard! Forget the gentle nudging…

God gave me a push two months ago. It was actually more like a fist right to the middle of the back, thrusting me wildly forward. There was no mistaking the push and from whence it came. Kind of like, “Rachel, I NEED you to hear me. Stop getting in your own way. Focus on Me and I will show you EXACTLY what I need you to do.” So I shut up. And He did tell me.

The end result: I wrote my first book!

I have actually wanted to write it for a long time and life (that whole eight children thing) just seemed to always get in my way. Soft whispers and gentle jabs weren’t cutting it! So God pushed, and I responded. Life isn’t going to ever slow down and I have really important things He needs me to do.

This first book details my story from infertily and loss to family and beyond. Subsequent books will focus on helping those who want to foster or adopt, and perhaps even more importantly, will also focus on post-adoption and foster help. Resources, stories, curriculums, my ear. You name it, I’m here!

We are revamping this blog to accommodate the changes. Hoping to help many who seem hesitant to make the leap, lost in the process, and struggling in the aftermath of Adoption and Foster Care.

How is God moving through your life right now? Is he softly blowing whispers your way hoping you’ll swiftly correct your course? Or is he rushing through your window like a strong spring windstorm trying desperately to get your attention? What does He have for you to do? I guarantee there is something.

SO…there’s a little surprise we’ll reveal next week. Another reason I was pushed to do this whole book thing NOW!

All I can say is continue to Look Up. Expect Miracles. Cause miracles will happen!

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5 reasons your teen isn’t like other teens…

For family and friends of kids with attachment issues. We know you want to understand. We know you want to be supportive. You want to get it! Articles like this help with the how, not just with the why.

5 reasons your teen with reactive attachment disorder isnt like all other teenagers

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to past memories and new adventures

(posted by rachel)
It is hard to believe that the start of our crazy adoption adventures beginning in Bogota, Colombia almost a decade ago has landed us here. I have two children preparing to drive. Four awkward middle-schoolers. A pretty little fourth grader. And a three year old who started as a frozen emby and currently runs the house. And all of this was accomplished in eight short years. Crazy. Exhausting. Frustrating at times. And I wouldn’t change a single moment. A single decision. A single opportunity.

In searching my blog archives today for an upcoming adoption book series, I was overcome with emotion. Honestly, I had forgotten half of what was written and I was so grateful for the efforts put into this project from the beginning. It has preserved memories and fostered relationships that will last past a lifetime. A part of those efforts are not mine alone, but yours…comments and support from readers, fellow adoptive parents, amazing family, and awesome friends. The interactions from the blog have brought me lasting friendships with others who have walked this path. I value their thoughts and opinions. They have helped shape my adoption and parenting experience over the years. I just love them all!

The blog comments stand collectively as a preservation of my circle of influence from that time period. I love this so much! It’s a history of the people who supported us, loved us, and were present in our lives during a most significant moment in time.

It is just so cool. And my children will always have that as a historical witness to how much they were loved…even before they came here. I was in tears on the phone tonight with Adam. Waxing nostalgic, as usual. We are entering a new chapter in our lives. A new decade. A new house. A new way to help others who have adopted, want to adopt, and those that love them. It’s kind of surreal to think of where we started and where we are now. It’s gone so fast. A blink, really. And yet, that day in Colombia when four little strangers became ours seems like a lifetime ago. Sometimes I even forget that it happened ’cause they are just ours. And I wouldn’t change it, ever.

Here is to new adventures. New ways of reaching out. New ways of loving and connecting. And perhaps a new adoption still. :)

It is not the years in your life, but the life in your years!

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and so it begins

We’re doing it again. Adoption that is. Yay! China. Two kiddos. So excited. More info to come. Official Application Date was April 22, 2016.

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what if

I wanted to try and have another baby. I mean, is that really so bad? Shutting the door makes so much sense. For so many reasons. And yet, I can’t stop thinking about it.

All. The. Time.

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the weight of the wait

I am currently waiting. Waiting to miscarry our last hope for another baby. These are the worst kinds of wait. I have experienced them before. The wait for something horrible to happen that one knows is coming, over which you have absolutely no control. But this time, with this wait, there is an extra heaving brick upon my chest. It is heavy. Crushing, really. A sense of finality looms thickly over me. I am not ready to close this chapter. I thought I was. But I am not. And yet, despite my best efforts at wanting to try again, I cannot make it sit right inside of my sad heart. In the seat of my soul is the knowledge that I need to be done. The further we get into this embryo transfer the more this truth resonates with me. For the sake of my health and for the temporal and spiritual welfare of my kiddos, I must be done!

Infertility, like most things under the umbrella of loss, sucks all emotional energy and physical strength from your heart and soul, if you let it. When a transfer fails or a blood draw yields a negative number, when an embryo doesn’t survive a thaw or harmless spotting begins, we Infertiles find ourselves quickly cycling in a cyclone of sadness. The most sane and rational of us find ourselves bouncing from hopeful to hopeless several times a day. Our mental withitness is dulled by inordinate amounts of hormones. Butt shots, stomach shots, blood thinners, infusions, suppositories, catheters, blood draws, ultrasounds, egg retrievals, embryo storage, acupunture. You name it, we’ve done it. And tens of thousands of dollars later (sometimes hundreds) some of us end up with a baby. Some of us don’t. Some of us want to keep going, but simply can’t afford it. Some of us end up with several frozen embryos in cryo-freeze and some of us end up with no viable embryo to transfer…Ever! Some of us decide to adopt, some try a surrogate, and some stay childless. The possible outcomes are never certain and always changing when you’re in the middle of the storm.

I am one of the lucky ones. I realize this. Hannah was a gift to our family. Not because we had more faith than someone else or because we were more worthy. Not because we had a better doctor or paid more money. We just simply had her. At the right time, in the right place. The right amount of magic. A miracle. Because it just was. And if I believe that she is with us because God sent her to us then I have to believe that the rest of the pregnancies failed because of that same will. That same God.

With this final IVF try my body was prepped and ready. Implantation went perfectly. My lining and all hormone levels were great. The fact of the matter is that after 10 years of trying, countless miscarriages, ectopic pregnancies, lame Clomid cycles, and then two serious years of IVF treatments, which yielded 20 retrieved eggs, six growing embryos, and lots of drugs, ultrasounds, consults, and more drugs, this last pregnancy was not meant to be, just like all the others. Besides Hannah!

Adam and I KNOW that Hannah is more than a lot of couples who struggle for a bio baby are ever blessed with. So I choose to be grateful. I choose to be graceful. And for a little while I choose to be heart-broken. If there is one thing infertility has taught me, it is how to feel pain and grief with copious amounts of grace and gratitude. I wouldn’t want to bear sadness any other way. And as I adjust to this new idea of never ever trying to have another baby, I give myself permission to be sad sometimes. To second guess my resolve. To cry. And then, as always, to give thanks to above for the abundance of life that is found within the walls of my home.

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another turn on the merry-go-round

December 15th, 2014. Yep, that’s the day. The day we are going to try for another baby!

We have two frozen embryos left and we have no idea if there are any genetic issues with either. Out of the last four implanted embryos, one has been viable–sweet Baby Hannah. Put into a percentage, my chance of a positive pregnancy is around 20%. To top those stellar odds off, I have been diagnosed with Antiphospholipid syndrome, more specifically, the Anticardiolipin Antibody.

And yes, I was tested for this previously, but you can acquire it at anytime. The Preeclampsia and small baby from frozen embryo coupled with unexplained miscarriages is what tipped my Perinatologist off to test again. (UW’s high risk clinic has the best specialists…they are as amazing as my OB and Endocrinologist. I am so blessed with incredible doctors)

Wish us luck!

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where did the year go?

I just looked up today and Hannah is nine months old. What?!? My oldest Colombian is turning fourteen this summer. Seriously??? I just became a mom six years ago. How is this all possible? I have cataloged so many posts in my mind since Hannah came home from the NICU in October. They are stored in my memory castle waiting for a few spare moments to be penned.

But for now…

Hannah is rockstar amazing. Growing, developing, thriving. She is a little miracle that has bound our family a little bit tighter.

Annie is still our Sunshine. She brought light into our family when she was three and shines brighter with every passing year. She gracefully allows Hannah to take the baby spot in the family.

Brian is the coolest kid I know. He is liked by everyone and has an innate comedic timing that endears him to everyone. He is gentle and kind and I adore him.

Joseph is thriving through homeschooling. Best decision I’ve made all year. He’s been home for just a month and I already see him flourishing in awareness and kindness. Jo Jo anxiously waits for Monday because he gets Hannah all to himself. He has become quite adept at feeding her. He’s the least messy of all the kids at it.

Juan is so stinkin’ smart. His academic potential has skyrocketed this year. He has grown so much since moving here. He is less volatile. He is more in control. And he is totally rocking school. Highest reader in his grade and tested out at seventh grade math. What?!? Knowing where he came from and the struggles he has had….my closest circle knows how much this means to me.

Nikki is trying hard to reconcile tween status. She is blessed with a teacher this year that has worked with her at her math level….yet pushes her in her writing and other things to do better. Nikki will always significantly struggle with learning and school and we are resolved to do whatever it takes to get her through. She will be homeschooled through middle school so that we have more control over what level of work she is doing.

Ezzy is Amazing…as usual. I intentionally let her go this year…making her do a year of public school. She needed a chance to fly without me. Ez was awarded student of the month for the whole school…and not because of her academics, which are still so low, but because she is the hardest worker her teachers have ever seen. We all know that is true about her, but it is really awesome to see that reinforced by others, as well.

Danny is sooo a teenager. He is so handsome and muscular and athletic. He has a smile that goes on for miles. He has tried really hard this year to take responsibility for his actions and to make good choices. I am so proud of him. It is so difficult to be a teenage boy with different standards than most of the teenagers he is surrounded by.

Phew…I think I’m done. I hope to have a bloggin’ summer. Much to say and discuss and think about. :)

Posted in adjusting, adoption, Annie, Brian, daniel, esmeralda, Hannah, Joseph, juan pablo, maria daniela | Tagged , | Leave a comment

so close

Hannah is super close to coming home. She passed her car seat challenge, feeding tube test, hearing test, and she’s had no apnea while resting for over a week. We have her one week doctor check scheduled, her next ROP exam at her eye doctor scheduled, and she’s had her first vaccination. We WERE tentatively scheduled for release today (Sunday).

So what are we waiting for???Little Miss Thing decided she does not want to come home just yet, apparently. I think she doesn’t want to leave her nurses or her baby buddies.

Hannah is eating great from the breast and the bottle. Once her feeding tube came out, however, she started to get overwhelmed while eating…Meaning she stops breathing and cannot recover without assistance. Yes, Scary!! She has had at least one spell a day for the last three days. So I put her back on the monitors while I feed her to help track what she isdoing. She just needs a little time to master pacing while she is eating.

We are monitoring her today. If she does well, we may go home tomorrow. If she keeps being a preemie stinker than we’ll keep hanging loose here. Breathing while eating is a super difficult task for preemies to master. They still aren’t even supposed to be eating yet…so sometimes it takes awhile to outgrow.

Hannah is SEVEN weeks old tomorrow (37 weeks gestation). She is 5lbs 3oz. And 17.5 inches long. Because Hannah was born so early she is in the super grower category, which means she gets fortifier in her milk and protein to help her grow faster. That is how she was able to pack on weight quickly. Even still, Hannah is “petite” ranging in the 25th percentile for growth…against other babies born the same time as her. She has a NICU buddy that is the same gestational age. They’ve gone through everything here together. They used to weigh the same, gaining about the same amount every night. And then…he just took off. He is about 10 oz bigger at this point. Hannah tried to keep up, but she pooped out on the race a couple of weeks ago. She has dipped down a couple of times to the 10th percentile, but is currently doing better. She’s pretty much awesome! Fighting all the way.

Hannah has been very fortunate. She is not plagued with many issues NICU babies sometimes deal with…a testament to the prayers of her family and friends, no doubt. She is Lactation’s rockstar and the current princess of the palace. (She has had only boy roomies for practically the whole time). She is, however, still very much a preemie in terms of growth and development. We’re okay with that. It means we get to snuggle her tiny little body for longer. It may be our only chance!

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when does hannah get to come home?

There are two major hurdles left that Hannah still has to clear before coming home.

First, she has to be Apnea free for a certain amount of time. Although her episodes are rare, they still happen. She just had one last night. She is so little that she still forgets to breath sometimes. Most of the time, however,she recovers on her own, and quickly. Most NICU babies get a shot of caffeine in their feeding tube every day to help with overcoming apnea. It has proven extremely effective. Hannah just transitioned off her caffeine a few days ago so she is being monitored to see how she does without the extra help.

I am allowed to take her off the monitors when I breastfeed her, which is giving me practice at not relying on the monitors toknow if she is okay. It is a good thing, but a little nerve-racking when it looks like she is not breathing. :)

Second, Hannah has to eat a full feeding from the breast and/or bottle for a certain amount of time. We are up to three breast feedings a day, shegets really tired and cannoteat the full amount. Lately she has been getting between 16 and 2o mls on the breast. Lactation calls her their little rockstar too. She is doing great. But her full feeding is 38 mls right now so we give her the rest down her tube. The doctors will up the amountsof time per day she is allowed to try from the nipple until it is full time.

Hannahhas tolerated her food well from the beginning, which has helped her gain strength at a really good pace. She was just taken off the added protein, which has helped her gain muscle. Her food is still being fortified, and will continue to be for awhile.

She is four pounds, just about what she would be in my tummy. She gains about an ounce a day, which is very normal for a baby in utero or out. She’s not gaining too fast or too slow. We couldn’t be happier with her progress. All in all, she is doing great…keeping up with her two little boy buddies…showing them who is boss!! We can’t wait to bring her home. Only a couple of more weeks!!!!!!

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